The Gendered Effects of a Graduated Sanctions Model on Probation Outcomes in Kansas

Published date01 May 2022
Date01 May 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Criminal Justice Policy Review
2022, Vol. 33(4) 373 –398
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/08874034221080188
The Gendered Effects
of a Graduated Sanctions
Model on Probation
Outcomes in Kansas
George E. Browne1, Lisa Melander1,
Breanna Boppre2, and Mari-Esther Edwards1
Although originally perceived as an evidence-based program, there has been a
continual debate on the true effectiveness of the graduated sanctions model for
probation. Nonetheless, what is missing in the literature is an examination of how
this program may affect women under supervision differently than men. Utilizing
probation violation hearing data from the Kansas Sentencing Commission (KSSC), this
study examines the impact of Kansas’ 2013 House Bill 2170 (HB 2170) on probation
outcomes across gender. Results indicate that the use of graduated sanctions scheme
through HB 2170 is associated with a higher likelihood of receiving an imprisonment
disposition for women probation technical violators than men. Major findings and
policy implications will be discussed.
correctional policy, sanctions, gender bias
Since the 1970s, the U.S. criminal justice system has undergone an era of “mass incar-
ceration” (Alexander, 2012, p. 6). The United States has the largest prison population
and the highest per-capita incarceration rate with 1 in every 110 people incarcerated
(Glaze & Kaeble, 2018; Liptak, 2008). Nonetheless, the majority of persons involved
in the criminal justice system are under community corrections supervision (probation
1Kansas State University, Manhattan, USA
2Wichita State University, KS, USA
Corresponding Author:
George E. Browne, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, Kansas State University,
1603 Old Claflin Place, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.
1080188CJPXXX10.1177/08874034221080188Criminal Justice Policy ReviewBrowne et al.
374 Criminal Justice Policy Review 33(4)
or parole). In fact, research has shown that 68% of the 6,000,000 people in the criminal
justice system are under community supervision, while the remaining 32% are incar-
cerated (Glaze & Kaeble, 2018). This equates to 1 in every 31 adults in the United
States on probation or parole (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2009). Hence, scholars suggest
the United States is now entering an era of “mass probation” due to increases in the
number of persons under community supervision as well (Phelps, 2017, p. 54).
By design, probation was created to serve as a viable alternative to prison. Instead
of incarceration following a criminal conviction, those on probation are permitted to
remain in the community under structured supervision (Stohr & Walsh, 2015). As a
stipulation of this supervision, clients must refrain from committing any new crimes
or technical violations. Technical violations refer to the breaking of established rules
of supervision such as using drugs and/or alcohol, failing to maintain employment, or
missing appointments with their assigned probation officer (M. Jones & Kerbs, 2007).
Depending on the violation, the response from probation officers or the court can
range from community-based sanctions (e.g., extension of supervision term or more
frequent urine analyses) to revocation to prison.
The use of graduated sanctions has been proposed as a way to improve account-
ability and reduce the number of revocations for technical violations (Taxman et al.,
1999). Graduated sanctions refers to a correctional practice whereby short incremental
periods of incarceration are administered for noncompliance with community correc-
tions supervision rules (Hawken et al., 2016). As of recently, a number of states,
including Kansas, have implemented these policies (E. G. Browne, 2015; Pearsall,
2014). Although some research touts the success of these programs, which has included
improved compliance with probation conditions (Hawken, 2010; Hawken & Kleiman,
2009), others have not found the same benefits (Cullen et al., 2016; Duriez et al., 2014;
Shannon et al., 2015).
Moreover, little attention has been devoted to understanding gender differences in
outcomes related to graduated sanctions. While the U.S. correctional population has
increased substantially, the rate of women incarcerated has increased at a rate double that
of men since 1980 (U.S. Sentencing Project, 2018). Prior literature indicates that the
increase in women’s imprisonment is largely due to the rise in punitive sentencing poli-
cies targeting low-level offenses, which are the offense types most commonly commit-
ted by women (Boppre & Harmon, 2017; Chesney-Lind & Pasko, 2013). Thus, the
purpose of this study is to examine whether the graduated sanctions model in Kansas has
a differential impact on imprisonment dispositions (i.e., revocations resulting in incar-
ceration) across gender. The results not only contribute to the growing research on grad-
uated sanctions programs but also provide implications for gender-responsive policies.
Graduated Sanctions
Theoretical Foundation
A major foundation of the U.S. correctional system is deterrence theory (for a review,
see Cullen & Jonson, 2016). Deterrence-based strategies seek to prevent future law-
breaking acts through the threat of punishment. According to the theory, general

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